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Sweden a Tough Test for the U.S., August 22nd, 2007 2:15PM



International friendlies aren't often important, but today's USA-Sweden match carries significance for both sides, says's Ben Brackett. Sweden will use the home match as a tune-up for its next round of Euro 2008 qualifiers in two weeks. The Scandinavians understand that the U.S. is a much tougher opponent than it used to be, but even so, nobody likes losing to the Americans, especially at home.

For Bob Bradley's men, the game gives them a chance to prove themselves in Europe. Both teams will be fielding a strong lineup: Sweden's team contains 15 of the 23 players who traveled to Germany for last year's World Cup, while the U.S. squad is made up of 16 European-based players and just four from MLS.

Midfield will be the biggest test for the Americans, says Brackett. The Swedes should lineup with the experienced quartet of captain Freddie Ljungberg, Kim Källstr"m, Tobias Linderoth and Christian Wihelmsson. It will also be a particularly tall task for center-backs Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra to contain Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front. For the U.S. to win, striker Landon Donovan will have to bring his A-game, and Brian Ching will have to finish his chances.

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